The Good in All of Us

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ImageI have been wrestling with the post I would write this week in light of Monday’s horrific bombing in Boston. I have been brought to tears by the extreme violence and graphic images shown and described via media news outlets. As I listened to President Obama describe some of the immediate actions taken by those in the Boston area at the time I was once again brought to tears driving home last night.

My heart aches with and for those affected by this tragedy. There are stories of bravery and unsung heroes on-hand and ready to help and not flee. Runners still in the marathon changing course to the nearest hospital to donate blood for the injured. Boston residents opening their homes to dozens of people to get them to safety off the street. Student doctors showing up to help not because they were called to, but because there was a need.

I remember back to September 11, 2001 and how our way of American life was forever altered. It wasn’t supposed to happen here. Not to us. We’re safe. As we know, we were wrong. I lay in bed last night crying to my husband who tells me these things are happening all over the world and I think, yes, they do, but we don’t live all over the world. We live here.

To some extent there is a great disconnect because these 2 specific bombings happened on the East Coast and therefore the West Coast still feels secure, but it’s all a façade.

I’m reading Home Front this week, about a mother in the National Guard who gets sent to war in 2005. It talks about the selfless sacrifice of our nation’s soldiers who are called and they go. They leave their family and they go. They hear the call and they go. And this week our nation heard the call from a bomb at a race on Patriot’s Day in Boston, and they responded.

It brings joy to my sad heart that good does still exist in the world. I believe we are all capable of doing good even if we choose not to act.

My husband mentioned last night how a bombing like this can make people question God. I immediately thought, NO! I remember shortly after 9/11 a poem being read at church. I believe it was titled “Where was God?” I could be wrong.

But what I remember is God was everywhere. He was with the passengers on every flight. He was with the pilots who were overtaken. He was with the people in the TwinTowers as some escaped with their lives and others never came home. He was there comforting the hearts of the victims and their families. He was with the first responders who heard the call and came running. God was very busy that day.

And even now I take comfort in knowing God did not allow this to happen. I could go on and on about the effects of sin in our world, but just knowing that bad things will happen and God will always be there brings comfort to my heart.

I pray peace to those grieving and in pain and I take comfort in knowing in the midst of chaos and destruction the good in all of us can overcome the bad things in the world. 

My Credo

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CredoYesterday in church we were challenged with writing our Credo. First thing that came to mind what the song Creed by Rich Mullins. I remember I had to memorize the Apostles’ Creed in college and most of it stuck with me, but I think because the song really lays it out. Then Pastor Pete shared his Credo. It is much longer than the Apostles’ Creed but also detailed in a way that makes one think about what they truly believe.

I was really distracted in church yesterday with the thought of Easter coming and the significance. Pastor Pete mentioned the weight of carrying one’s cross. We think that by wearing a cross around our neck we are making a statement of carrying the cross of Christ. Then he mentioned the cost and what it meant to the people with Jesus. You could not enter the gates of the city without passing by the “criminals” that had been put on a cross to die outside the city walls. We modern-day Christians have no clue what it means to carry one’s cross. “Take up your cross and follow me”, was Jesus’ words to his followers. They had to essentially die to be with Christ. How many of us are willing to do that today?

Side note: I hate to admit this, but the other day I had my 9-year old with me at Target and I asked her why we celebrate Easter. She told me, with no hesitation, we celebrate the Easter bunny. What a blow!

For me Easter is a time of remembrance and celebration. I hope to instill in my children the true meaning of our holidays and why we celebrate them.

But getting back to my Credo and what I believe. I know this will be a work in progress but I remember in my systematic theology class in college, Professor Truett Bobo challenged me. I went into BethanyBibleCollege with a list of what I believed but not why I believed. I left Bethany with a new understanding of what I believe and why.

Now I have the challenge of putting down my beliefs on paper and re-examining my system of beliefs. I know they have changed since my bible college days. I know I try harder to actually love people as Christ loves them and not just say I do…to embrace a person for who they are and not for their situation.

I challenge you now to do as I am doing. What do you believe? And why? Is it grounded in what you’ve been told? Or is it deeper than that? Do your beliefs actually mean something to you?

Does Your Life Matter?

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Words cannot express the overwhelming sense of sadness that has filled our nation once again with a senseless act of violence too horrific for words. Yet today, as the rest of the world moves on with their day, 2 young children were laid to rest in the community of Newtown, Connecticut.

I have a 9-year old and 19-month old daughters who I can only protect so much, but this insanity that has rocked the holiday season makes me fear for their safety when I can’t be there with them.

I was listening to talk radio today and found a quote which I think makes a lot of sense to the happenings in our world today.

“Everybody wants to be known, and everybody wants their life to matter. Everybody wants their life to have meaning.”  – Rush Limbaugh

Regardless of how we feel about the talk show host or not, his words are truly hitting home today. We live in a social media world where people over-share their lives on a daily basis. You can find out what someone is doing from their waking moment to going to bed at night.

Yes, I love keeping up with my friends I can’t see, but it doesn’t mean I need to take a picture of my breakfast for the world to see. A confession…I have always had dreams of being a movie actress. What does that say about me? It means I want to be known and I want my life to matter.

I was 25-years old when I fell in love with my oldest daughter. I adopted for completely selfish reasons and will tell anyone that who tells me how wonderful I am for adopting. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted my life to matter in the life of someone else. When I die and there are no more regrets I want to know that my life meant something to someone. But you know what, it does.

I am loved by a man I never thought I would meet and I matter to him. I am loved by a 9-year old who needed someone to love and raise her, and I mean something to her. I am loved by my 19-month old daughter who knows nothing of fear and craziness in the world and to her I am her world. I am loved by my parents who have raised me the best they could and then let me go (although I keep coming back) and I matter to them. I am loved by my sisters and their families and I matter.

I could go on and on, but knowing I matter and that my life has meaning outside the confines of my own mind, means I have something many people don’t have. I have the knowledge that my life is worth something. I ache for the children and adults who don’t have the reassurance that their lives are worth something and they matter to someone out there.

So whether this is you struggling to find meaning in your own life or you are part of a larger community and have people that need to know they matter, tell them. Open up to those around you. Yeah, we may think you’re crazy but chances are we are not going to reject you. We all have some amount of crazy and what is “normal” is all relative. Be someone who matters to someone else. Let your life have meaning by giving beyond yourself and being the change someone desperately needs.

The Moments we Lose

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http://soeasybeinggreen-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/merrychristmas.jpgI have been thinking on this subject since the week of Thanksgiving, but have been so busy with work and moving and life that the time has escaped me.

It all started the week of Thanksgiving when I heard on the radio how stores were moving Black Friday sales up to start on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. I was shocked and saddened by this report. Holidays have a way of bringing out the stress in each of us and to top it all off there are hoards of people who can’t wait to leave the family feast to fight the crowds for the “best deal in town”.

I prefer to shop online. I can find exactly what I am looking for and never have to deal with the crowds. I talked to my husband about the craziness of what has become the busiest shopping season of the year, and he tells me that if that’s what the stores are doing then so be it.

But I think whether you choose to shop at this new, earlier hours is your choice. However, the stores are creating a new holiday tradition, that instead of Thanksgiving for all the bounty we have, it’s a consumer’s madhouse that makes us drop all fronts of thankfulness to unadulterated, blood-thirsty shopping freaks.

Every year you hear the stories of tragedy that befalls someone in the mad rush for the doors. Where is the holiday cheer that should abound? Then you have some who will literally camp out in front of the store for days before a sale because they just have to have the best price they can find on something that probably don’t even need. No family time for them on Thanksgiving, unless they had family time in the line waiting outside the Best Buy.

Speaking of need, there is a lot of talk about “I need that” or “I’ve got to have that”. What is our need truly? We live in a country where there is very little that we need. Man has basic needs for survival and then we have wants. Yes, I love to shop and get new things, but I look around lately and think to myself how much we have and how little we need.

I don’t wish for world peace. I wish for a people to realize the blessings they have right in front of them, to be thankful for the little things and the big things and for the holiday season to be a Merry Christmas for all!!!

30 Days of Thankfulness

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This month I am posting 30 Days of Thankfulness. While I believe we should be thankful everyday, November is a month of Thanksgiving. Check back for daily updates on the things I am thankful for. Leave a comment why you are thankful.

Day #30 – Today I am thankful for the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. We turned our keys in last night and now can start the unpacking and organization of the new house. ♥ the space, ♥ the neighborhood, ♥ the opportunity!!!

Day #29 – Today I am thankful for clear skies. I know the rain is coming but the weather this morning was great as I was getting in the car and driving to work. I like the cold, but not the wet.

Day #28 – Today I am thankful for the love and support of my family.

Day #27 – Today I am thankful for cold medication and cough drops that numb my throat.

Day #26 – Today I am thankful for strong water pressure.

Day #25 – Today I am thankful for strong cleaning products.

Day #24 – Today I am thankful for NKOTB…Madalyn has already made 4 new friends in the new ‘hood and we haven’t even moved in yet. :)

Day #23 – Today I am thankful for quiet time I had today with just Eva, while Chris was at work and Madalyn was with Nana, Papa and Grandma.

Day #22 – Today I am thankful for technology which allows me to reach our and stay connected to friends near and far. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Day #21 – Today I am thankful for life’s ups-and-downs. Even in the midst of the the chaos there is peace in knowing who holds my tomorrow.

Day #20 – Today I am thankful for my sisters…not just Connie this time, but Katie, Brittany and the other sister Mindy as well. They are wonderful sisters, each in their own way and I am blessed to call them mine. I’ve already covered Connie in an earlier post, so today I get to tell you why I am thankful for the others, although one post is much too short to say all there is to say. For Katie, I am thankful for the long talks we have shared over the years, the adventures we have taken together and the times we can spend together, although they are few and far between the older we get. For Brittany, I am thankful that she is part of our family. Losing my position as the youngest child was an easy sacrifice to make to have a sister like Britt. And to my other sister, Minnie, who may be “just my cousin”, she is as close to me as my other sisters. She has shared my life, my room and my adventures since the early years and I am thankful for her and miss her very much since she left me to move to WA for her next adventure. I love you all!!!

Day #19 – Today I am thankful a short work week.

Day #18 – Today I am thankful for Sunday naps.

Day #17 – Today I am thankful for the quiet time I can enjoy after my girls have gone to bed and Chris is still at work. Been a very busy day but now I am watching the movie RENT.

Day #16 – Today I am thankful that Madalyn gets to share her learning goal in front of the entire school. I won’t be there but her Daddy and sister will be there cheering her on. Way to go Madalyn!!!!

Day #15 – Today I am thankful for the excitement of my children. To see their faces get bright and happy over sometimes the littlest things, is enough to be thankful for. Madalyn can be thankful and excited over many things that may seem like not a big deal. But to her it is! And Eva gets excited every time mom or dad gets home. She can barely contain herself. Such a blessing to see them happy and excited!

Day #14 – Today I am thankful for my grandparents, Les & Inez. Through thick-and-thin they have been married for 66 years. Pop is a man of integrity who has been a living example of God’s goodness in our family. And Gram, through it all loves each of us in her own way. She’s a fighter and I love her very much! They have been a great support to me my entire life and so blessed to have them in my life.

Day #13 – Today I am thankful for sore muscles. We have painted 5 out of the last 7 days and my body is tired and I have sore muscles, but it means we are one step closer to moving into our new home.

Day #12 – Today I am thankful for the resources we have to accomplish the things on our to-do list.

Day #11 – Today I am thankful for life.

Day #10 – Today I am thankful for friends. Today Jennifer and Ashley came over to spend time with Eva so we could paint at the other house. Right now they are on a walk so I could finally shower today. Thank you!!!!

Day #9 – Today I am thankful for a happy baby who, even with a black eye and a cold is still happy and all smiles!!

Day #8 – Today I am thankful for having a place of employment where I look forward to coming to work. I’ve worked here for over 12 years and even though I’d rather be sleeping right now, I’m thankful to have a job!

Day #7 – Today I am thankful for God’s timing. We were told yesterday we could start painting at the new house and then we got a check in the mail to cover the cost of paint. Madalyn’s room is almost done. :)

Day #6 – Today I am thankful for the right to vote. I voted by mail last week, but still thankful that we live in a country where we have the right to cast our vote. Regardless of who wins or what passes, we as a collective nation have the opportunity to have a voice in the direction of our country and state.

Day #5 – Today I am thankful for my sister Connie…yes, you read that right. Today is her birthday and so I honor her with my thankfulness. We may not have always gotten along, but now we do. She is usually willing to help out with the girls when we need it and she opens her home so willingly to other people. I will always remember the time I was in the hospital…and there are a lot of yucky details here, but she let me use her brush to get the yuck out of my hair. She may not have realized it at the time, but I sure thought that was nice of her. :) Happy Birthday Connie!

Day #4 – Today I am thankful for an extra hour last night. Even though my girls were up at 6 am this morning we were rested and got a lot done before church.

Day #3 – Today I am thankful for my husband and best friend, Chris…he has made my life better and is the best partner I could imagine for raising our girls. I love you!!!

Day #2 – Today I am thankful for my parents, Les and Kathie who have supported me through all the years and still watch Eva weekly and usually will watch the girls at a moments notice. I love you both!

Day #1 – today I am thankful for my wonderful in-laws, Ray and Rose who came and stayed with us the last 5 days and allowed Chris Riley and myself a lot of freedom to work with the Haunted House at church, as well as clean our house and do our laundry.

Name it. Claim it. Tame it.

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Do you struggle with issues? Or are you perfect? Better question is: who ARE you???? This week Pastor Pete brought the message from Mark 3: 7-12. Here we find Jesus with a large crowd:

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.”

The part of the story Pete focused on was when Jesus told the impure spirits not to reveal who he was. He did not want to be named the Son of God. There was an ancient tradition that naming something gave it power. Pete used the story of Rumpelstiltskin. We probably all know the story but basically the deal was the Queen must know his name in order to be free of the deal she made. Through devious acts she learns his name and wins. The power of naming him gave her freedom.

The video we watched this week is called, Name, by Rob Bell. It is a series of people taking off their layers to reveal who they are. Rob narrates throughout the film, but the message on the shirts is powerful. We have the façade people see and know and we have the real us. What is at your heart of hearts? Are you able to name the issue(s) that fills your mind and heart?

In recovery groups the members are called to stand and name their problem. “Hello, my name is… and I’m a(n)…” By naming your struggle/issue/problem you have identified it. Now you can claim it as yours. At this point it becomes easier to tame it. Many of us live in denial to the fact of our issue or where it stems from. Pete used an example of eating ice cream…we are happy, let’s eat ice cream…we are sad, let’s eat ice cream…it’s Tuesday, let’s eat ice cream. Here the issue of not dealing with reality but eating away the problem. But the problem doesn’t go away, we just fill the sorrow or joy with something else for the momentary pleasure we derive.

Jacob, of the Old Testament, didn’t even know who he was. He claimed his brother’s name to become his father’s heir. Only the oldest received an inheritance then. He finally finds himself in a battle and must answer the end question…who are you? And you know what? He finally figures out who he is…”I am Jacob,” he replies.

So again, who are you? I am a Christ-follower, wife, mother, daughter, sister, marketer…I am Melanie. I deal with pain, happiness, sorrow, joy, fear and many other emotions just like everyone else. My ability to name my moment and claim my moment allows me to tame my moment and be more like Christ.

No, I am not perfect, but I know the one who is and he calls me to follow him through all my ups and downs and helps me deal with LIFE, as we know it.

Surrounded by God’s Glory

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This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

This verse is carrying me through this morning. Each day is a new day; a new opportunity to praise our God, the father of us all. Last night as I drove home, with tears streaming down my face I looked up to the sky, with the clouds spattering the blue expanse and saw light fighting to shine through. I was amazed at the beauty of this place we call home and thought of Karyn, who is now singing with the angels. The moment caught me as a glimmer of hope of what is to come in the next life, where my friend now resides. I can only imagine her now…restored to health and life, praising her Father, the creator of us all.

I read posts from Karyn’s husband, family and friends and fill a new wash of sadness come over me, but still there is so much of God in each one. Her father wrote yesterday,

“This morning, our sweet daughter, Karyn, went to be with her Lord after a long battle with heart disease. She was only 36 years-old. She will be sorely missed by her mom and me, as well as her husband, Jack, and their 4 children; and her 5 brothers and sisters and the rest of the family. But we are assured that we know where she is. Praise the Lord!”

Even in the midst of his loss and sadness he is praising God. Do you find you praise God in the hard times? The dark times? Or only the good? Do you pray to the giver of life daily? Or do you only come to him in your times of need? Or despair?

Each day is a new day we can come before the throne and thank God for the many, many blessings in our life. It’s not only the big things that we need to recognize that God working in our lives, but the small things as well. I remember I once decided to find God’s blessings daily and I still try to recognize the things around me that are from him. Whether it be a beautiful sunset on the drive home, a flower garden for me to enjoy the view and scents or the way my baby lays her head on my shoulder to cuddle…I look for God in the still, quiet moments.

Today I am reminded of the song, again by Mercy Me, I Can Only Imagine. Today Karyn is walking by God’s side, surrounded by His glory.

I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by Your side 

I can only imagine what my eyes will see when Your face is before me 

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel 
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of you be still 
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall 
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all 
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes and I find myself standing in the sun 
I can only imagine when all I will do is forever, forever worship You